May 22, 2009
| by Arlen Schweiger
U2, Monsters vs. Aliens, My Bloody Valentine, Chuck, the BCS National Championship, NBA All-Star Saturday Night—can you name the common theme? If you said, “They’ve all been filmed and broadcast in 3D,” then you win the grand prize. OK, maybe no prize, but it does mean that you’re up on the latest video trend.
We’ve come a long way from 20th-century campy sci-fi 3D movies, as anyone who’s attended an IMAX 3D showing can attest to. Yes, we’re still wearing glasses to get the full experience, but we’re being treated to 3D more and more these days. Is it still just a fad, or more of an experiment at this point, or do consumers really want it?
The Blu-ray Disc Association is trying to hammer home 3D a little further. It announced this week that it is going to work on implementing a standard for the format—something that wouldn’t be relegated to the red/blue “anaglyph” technology we’re used to. You’ve probably seen the commercials for My Bloody Valentine’s coincidental arrival on Blu-ray this week.
“Blu-ray Disc is the ideal platform for bringing 3D technology to mainstream home entertainment,” the BDA said in a statement. “The format has been widely embraced by consumers, and the 1080p picture quality and overall experience have become the standards against which all other high-definition delivery platforms are measured. Blu-ray Disc’s capacity, flexibility and incomparable picture quality coupled with the activities of the BDA’s 3D task force sets the stage for a 3D home entertainment specification that establishes another industry standard and enables an in-home 3D consumer experience unmatched by any other delivery mechanism.”
Television manufacturers are have been hopping on the 3D bandwagon with the development and sales of “3D-ready” HDTVs. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, 3D was everywhere, with companies such as Panasonic, Samsung, LG and Sony showcasing new models; while Florida’s football championship victory over Oklahoma was beamed live in 3D to the show audience. In the spring, Mitsubishi, which had already been selling 3D-ready DLP (Digital Light Processing) rear-projection televisions, announced a slew of new sets featuring the technology and ranging from 60 to a whopping 82 inches.
For even larger screens of a dedicated home theater setting, companies like Stewart Filmscreen and Da-Lite on the screen side, and JVC and Projectiondesign on the projector side have demonstrated products that support 3D. Stewart’s front-projection Silver 3D and several rear-projection screens as well as Da-Lite’s 3D Virtual Grey materials, for example, make the prospect of 3D on a super-large home theater screen an inviting one.
“In the past, the gimmick aspect of 3D was in the forefront, but this has changed as the power of computers has changed our world, including what can be done with images,” says Mark Robinson, director of manufacturing at Stewart. “3D is more pervasive than ever. We’re providing 3D displays for medical imaging, for oil and mining interest, and, of course, for cinema. In cinema, content is king and the skilled storyteller is rewarded; in animation 3-D is the new gold standard. The creative people are excited about it … the polishing of the story line with 3D is essential to move forward successfully.”
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.